Indoor skydiving grows in popularity; bids to become Olympic sport

World Today

Indoor Skydiving

It’s a sport that just may be ready to take off. Indoor skydiving is becoming more-and-more popular globally, so much so that it could be part of the Summer Olympics in Paris in 2024. CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy dove into this story.

No longer is flight confined to the great outdoors, as Sydney Kennett demonstrated recently inside iFLY’s wind tunnel in Lone Tree, Colorado.

“I’ve done a lot of other sports and I haven’t liked them that much.” Kennett said.

This one she likes and is really good at. The 11-year-old twisting, turning tumbler is one of the best indoor skydivers, particularly for her age, in the world.

“Sydney’s amazing for many reasons,” said Mikey Silva, lead instructor at iFLY.

The facility relies on four massive fans in the roof to generate winds of up to 240 kilometers per hour, creating the conditions for free flights that typically last about a minute, much like more traditional skydiving.

“I think it’s convenient, it’s more cost-effective, it’s safer,” said Silva. “Flying to me is the perfect mix of power and freedom. You’re only limited by your creativity and skill. You can move in any direction you want, as fast as you want. I describe it like being on a roller-coaster that you control.”

Sydney’s dad took her to her first tunnel at age four. She got serious about indoor skydiving several years later.

“She was turning and holding her own heading within the first five to ten minutes, which is kind of unheard of,” said Andrew Kennett.

“I thought it was really fun,” his daughter said. “I was kind of nervous though because it looked really far down. But now I’m not really.”

It takes good air and body awareness to be good at this sport, much like trampolining which Sydney does to supplement her indoor training. The sport is judged. She’s won a number of events. Freestyle solo flying is her forte.

“My goals are to be a world champion and to get first in the world, and then I want to go to the Olympics too doing this,” she said.

“I think that’s a realistic, fair goal, absolutely,” said Silva.

In fact, indoor skydiving is under serious consideration for the 2024 Summer Olympics. The sport has boomed globally. There are at least five wind tunnels in China. Sydney has competed in three countries already.

“I like meeting new people around the world because it’s just really cool to do that,” she said.

Besides the thrill of flying, the sport offers young athletes another lure.

“You train for 15 minutes and you’re done for the day,” Andrew Kennett said.

Indoor flight appears to be on the rise. Without a plane to jump out of anywhere in sight.